Whether it’s a leaky furnace or if you flick the switch to power up your heating system in the fall and it won’t start, common furnace problems can strike your home at any moment.

Regardless of the problem, understanding how your heating system works and a little bit about some frequent furnace problems is vital in deciding whether you can troubleshoot on your own or if you need professional assistance. By watching the furnace's behavior, listening for unusual noises and checking for signs of damage or blockage, you can narrow down the possible causes.

If you're not sure about the problem or don't have the necessary skills and tools, it's best to call an experienced HVAC company like Ameri-Tec. We can accurately pinpoint the issue and perform the required repairs or maintenance, so we can get your furnace working again ASAP.

Here's more about what causes a furnace to leak water and eight other frequent heating dilemmas:

1. Your Furnace Leaks Water

A furnace can leak water for many reasons. One possibility is a condensate leak, where the water released during the combustion process is not completely draining away. This might be due to a clogged condensate drain line or a broken condensate pump. Another likely cause of water leakage from a furnace is a cracked heat exchanger, which can result in water—as well as dangerous gases—coming out of the furnace.

It is imperative to manage water leaks immediately to prevent further damage to your furnace. Contacting a professional HVAC technician like the crew at Ameri-Tec is recommended to diagnose and resolve the issue successfully.

2. My Furnace Makes Cold Air/Not Blowing Hot Air

Some likely causes for a furnace blowing cold air or not blowing hot air could be a malfunctioning thermostat, a problem with the pilot light or ignition system, a clogged air filter, or a malfunctioning heating element. It is also possible your furnace is overheating and shutting off as a safety mechanism.

If your furnace won’t blow hot air, it's best to contact a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and fix the problem. They can provide an accurate assessment and suggest the appropriate solution.

3. My Furnace Is Not Keeping Up

A widespread reason your furnace isn’t keeping up on a cold day is that your home is lacking insulation, which can lead to heat loss and lower efficiency. Another reason your furnace is struggling is because it’s not big enough for your home, so it can’t make enough heat to effectively warm the space. A malfunctioning thermostat or ductwork problems can also produce inconsistent heating.

To deal with this, first assess your home’s insulation level and make sure it’s enough to insulate your home. Also, check the thermostat to make sure it’s set right and the batteries still function.

If the problem continues, consider consulting with an experienced HVAC company, such as Ameri-Tec, who can assess your system, determine the root cause and provide solutions such as furnace replacement, repairing ductwork or changing your thermostat settings.

4. My Furnace Isn't Running at All

If your furnace is not working, there are some steps you can take to troubleshoot before phoning a professional. Ensure the thermostat is set correctly and the batteries are not dead. If the furnace still doesn't start, check the circuit breaker or fuse box to verify power is reaching the system.

If there is power but no heat, the problem may rest with the ignition system or gas supply. In that case, it's best to consult an experienced HVAC professional for diagnosis and repair.

5. My Furnace Turns On and Off

If your furnace is short cycling, that means it is turning on and off multiple times at short intervals as opposed to running in regular cycles like it ought to. This can cause inefficiency, more energy use and potential damage to your furnace.

If you think your furnace is short cycling, the first step is to check your unit’s air filter. Filters should be exchanged regularly to ensure air flow, so if your furnace air filter is clogged with debris you should exchange it for a clean one—and ensure it is pointing in the right direction. Second, check your thermostat and make sure  it’s set right and the batteries are good.

If those two things don’t work, it’s best to call experts like the crew at Ameri-Tec. Immediate professional attention will help restore the proper functioning of your furnace and prevent further complications and high energy bills.

6. My Furnace Won't Stop Humming

When your furnace is making a humming noise, it often is a sign of problems with the electrical components or the blower motor. Therefore, if you detect your furnace making a humming noise, it is crucial to take action.

If the noise persists, it is best to  contact a professional HVAC technician.

7. My Furnace Is Making a Loud Noise

If your furnace is producing a consistent loud noise, it's important to deal with the issue promptly to prevent further damage or potential safety hazards.  One common problem that causes this is a broken blower motor or fan, which can make a grinding or screeching sound. Another potential cause is a loose or worn-out belt that may make a squealing or rattling noise.

Because of the complexity of furnace systems and potential risks involved, it's better to contact a heating and cooling specialist.

8. My Furnace Won't Start

If your furnace won't turn on, make sure the thermostat is set to the right temperature, is in heating mode and the batteries are working. Then, check if the circuit breaker or fuse that controls the furnace is functioning properly. If these basic checks don't fix the problem, you can examine the furnace's power switch or emergency shutoff switch to ensure they're in the "on" position and weren’t accidentally turned off.

If those steps don’t get the job done, contact a heating specialist for furnace repair.

9. My Furnace Won't Ignite

Like a a furnace not turning on at all, a furnace that isn’t igniting can be caused by a dirty air filter or a tripped circuit breaker. So, examining the air filter and assessing your circuit breakers are a good place to start.

Other common causes of a furnace not igniting include a faulty igniter or faulty flame sensor. Symptoms of these include the furnace continuously making an attempt to ignite without success, no heat production or the furnace is making a burning or gas smell. Both of these issues can be easily addressed by HVAC pros like the team at Ameri-Tec.